Time For Consistency? 3 Housing Secretaries in 2 Years And 9 Housing Ministers In 9 Years
The housing sector welcomed its third Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government in two years and ninth Minister of Housing in nine years earlier this week following Boris Johnson’s immediate cabinet reshuffle.
Robert Jenrick MP, who succeeds James Brokenshire as the housing secretary, may be an unknown to many since he burst onto the political scene in 2014. However, the new Housing Minister, Esther McVey has embraced her role as controversial, outspoken and divisive figure since she erupted onto the political scene at the turn of the decade.
Who are the new role holders and decision makers in the property sector and what impact could they have on the property market?
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government: Robert Jenrick
Robert Jenrick is a fairly new figure on the political scene following his victory at a 2014 by-election where he claimed the parliamentary seat for Newark.
Despite being a vocal advocate of Boris Johnson during the leadership campaign, he is also the only Remainer to be offered a seat at the cabinet table which may highlight his political pedigree.
Having only served five years in Government, Jenrick seems to have been fast tracked into the cabinet where he takes his seat in history as the first cabinet member born in the 1980s.
During his political campaign, Jenrick was lauded as a fresh faced, young, and increasingly rare, state educated Tory who will help to modernise the Party and government.
However, he was criticised in the media for creating a false persona and hiding his £5 million property empire consisting of two £2 million London homes and a £1 million country house.
Jenrick started his career in 2008 as a corporate law solicitor before moving into a high-profile business career including senior financial role at Christie’s where he was working as International Managing Director until his election victory.
Since 2014, he has worked on the Health Select Committee, appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Employment at the Department for Work and Pensions and as Exchequer Secretary where he was a member of the Board of the Conservative Party.
Boris Johnson promised government coffers will be used for infrastructure projects and has pledged to stimulate the market by amending stamp duty land tax duty; Jenrick will be tasked with fulfilling these ambitions.
Having worked within the Treasury, Jenrick may be well placed to fight his funding corner in order to achieve his intention and determination of increasing the supply of houses.
Housing Minister: Esther McVey
Many may see this appointment as fairly strange given the specification and nature of the role she is undertaking.
McVey is making her third appearance in government, taking a seat on a chair that has been kept warm by eight other housing ministers in as many years.
Whilst Work and Pensions Minister under David Cameron and later as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions under Theresa May, McVey made a number of controversial comments which have been interpreted as a lack of empathy with society’s most vulnerable people.
Given her new role has a responsibility for completing the re-cladding of buildings following the Grenfell tower tragedy, some, especially within the North West of England where she was ousted from her Wirral based seat, have claimed she lacks the empathy needed for such an important governmental position.
When the Coalition government announced a Bedroom Tax on social housing tenants who reside in homes with additional bedrooms, McVey was a staunch advocate.
Last year, there were calls for her resignation after she misled the government whilst updating them on the progress of Universal Credit.
She also suggested that those implying cuts had been made to benefits were ‘peddling fake news’ because spending had increased by £9 billion from 2010. However, between 2016 and the present, benefits were been frozen and real terms income has decreased.
Despite the controversy, Esther McVey comes into the role with experience and is certainly capable of making an impact.
What the property sector needs now is a consistent figure driving change and progress. Although a general election may be looming once the remaining Brexit ordeal is safely navigated, it is hoped that the governmental property hotseat can now enjoy some much needed stability.
What have you made of the new housing appointments? Will they help to drive positive change to the sector? Would you have liked to have seen a different MP take the helm?